Family New World Quails (Odontophoridae)

Least Concern

Spot-bellied Bobwhite (Colinus leucopogon)


French: Colin à face blanche German: Fleckenwachtel Spanish: Colín gorjiblanco
Other common names: Sclater's Bobwhite (sclateri/leylandi), Dickey's Bobwhite (dickeyi), White-breasted Bobwhite (incanus/hypoleucus), White-faced Bobwhite (leucopogon)

Ortyx leucopogon


, 1842,

San Carlos = la Unión, El Salvador


Often considered conspecific with C. cristatus. Races have at times been considered to represent up to four distinct groups, sometimes thought to be full species, namely hypoleucus (with incanus), sclateri (with leylandi), nominate, and dickeyi#R, but the three S groups appear to be rather similar to one another; more study needed. N race hypoleucus relatively variable in whiteness of underparts, suggesting extensive interbreeding. Proposed race nicaraguae (from NW Nicaragua) included within sclateri. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. incanus Friedmann, 1944 – S Guatemala.
  • C. l. hypoleucus (Gould, 1860) – White-breasted Bobwhite – W El Salvador and adjacent SE Guatemala.
  • C. l. leucopogon (Lesson, 1842) – Spot-bellied Bobwhite – SE El Salvador and W Honduras.
  • C. l. leylandi (T. J. Moore, 1859) – NW Honduras.
  • C. l. sclateri (Bonaparte, 1856) – SW & C Honduras and NW Nicaragua.
  • C. l. dickeyi Conover, 1932 – NW & C Costa Rica.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–23 cm; estimated weight of male 144 g, of female 115 g. Small crest olive-brown with buff feather margins. Overall coloration mottled grey and dusky, also white.... read more


    Voice very similar to C. virginianus: loud whistled upslurred “bob-wheet!” advertising... read more


    Arid lower tropical zone, including open pine forest, grassland, brush, woodland edges and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small seeds, especially sacaton bunch grass and small buds in El Salvador. Seeds, fruits and insects in Costa Rica; sometimes feeds on... read more


    Pairing in Apr, nesting generally May–Sept, although often later in El Salvador, and sings from Mar in NW Costa Rica, where breeding... read more


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Status not well known; total population might number fewer than 500,000 birds, but thought to be relatively stable... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carroll, J.P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Spot-bellied Bobwhite (Colinus leucopogon). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 3 April 2020).